Start with the basics. Does your phone have an auto-lock function? Set it for the shortest possible time span.
Make sure your general phone password is set. Most phones have an option that either wipes the phone after a set number of failed attempts, or powers the phone down and locks it.
In addition, many apps, like Dropbox, have their own password protection. Dropbox also has a setting that will auto-erase the contents of the app after a set number of failed attempts. Be sure to enable these extra passwords and features for an extra layer of protection.
Airplane mode = no remote wipe
Most smartphones have an airplane mode—you can use everything on your phone, but all of the communication functions are off—so that it does not interfere with the plane’s electronics.
Airplane mode makes it easy to catch up on games or movies on your smartphone. It also means your phone is not emitting a GPS signal, which means a remote wipe function will not work.
This also comes into play if you are traveling abroad. Many travelers keep their phone in airplane mode even when they are on the ground in order to avoid nasty roaming charges. If your phone is stolen, however, most remote wipe programs will not work unless your phone connects to the network or the internet.
On the plus side, most smartphones access client data through the cloud, they do not store any data on the actual phone. That means if someone wants to access data, they have to go online—and hopefully a remote wipe command would kick in at that point.
Personal vacation? Left it behind or erase work apps
If you have a work-issued smartphone, consider leaving it behind when taking a personal vacation. Most places have internet access—you can check in if you need to.
If your phone is a mix or business and personal matters, consider deleting work apps when taking a personal vacation. For example, delete Dropbox before you leave and reinstall when you come back. Not only will it protect that data, it will also prevent you from checking on files while you sit on the beach.